Puppies. They’re tiny, adorable bundles of joy, and you’re about to welcome one into your home, yay! But first, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, and run through the top four dos and don’ts when potty training!
What To Do
1. START YOUNG
Puppies are at the optimum age to begin potty training at seven-weeks-old. At this age, they are used to their mother keeping the nest area free of waste. So the natural follow on, of learning to keep it clean for themselves – will have the most impact around now.
Of course, at this age, a puppy isn’t quite old enough to leave their mother, but that doesn’t mean that training can’t begin. If you’re awaiting the arrival of a new puppy, many breeders will have a plan in place, to start potty training before sending them off to their fur-ever home.
2. BE PATIENT
Training any animal takes patience, and focus. There’s a big difference between patiently waiting for your pup to do his business, and begrudgingly waiting, tapping your foot and rolling your eyes at him.
Dogs are pack animals, they rely on you, the pack leader, to make them aware of potential dangers. Your dog constantly looks to you for guidance, and if you’re frustrated – this anxious energy will distract him from focusing on the task at hand – and make it take longer.
3. SCHEDULE POTTY BREAKS
Your puppy only has so much control over when he has to go. The real decider is his bladder, and you should plan to take him to go potty as soon as he wakes up, finishes eating, and finishes playing.
When at rest, an eight-week-old puppy has enough bladder room to hold it for an hour, so set a timer, and take him outside every hour. It’s a real case of trial and error in the first couple of days, each dog is different, and if you notice that yours seems to have little accidents before the timer goes off – decrease the time by ten minutes, and so on – until you find the sweet spot!
4. USE POTTY BELLS
Teaching your dog to raise the alarm when he needs to be let out is important. But, teaching him to bark to go out is just plain annoying, and letting him scratch at the door is going to leave you with an ugly old door pretty soon!
Potty bells are essentially a little butler bell for your pooch! Affix to a wall near the door, and your puppy or dog can be trained to gently nudge these with his nose when it’s time to go potty. The training process can be incredibly simple, the only thing to watch out for is ringing the bell to be let out to play. You can discourage this by bringing him back inside whenever he doesn’t get straight down to potty business.
What Not To Do
1. RUB HIS NOSE IN IT
We’ve all heard that this is the best way to potty train right? Wrong.
Research has shown that unless you do this within one or two seconds of the accident taking place – your puppy won’t understand what it is that he has done wrong.
Not to mention, this kind of negative reinforcement is most emphatically not the way to develop a good relationship with your dog. It will instill fear in him, and a scared dog, just like a scared human is most certainly not in the right mindset to learn.
2. GET ANGRY IF HE GETS IT WRONG
It can be frustrating to turn your back for two minutes, and voila, those new hardwood floors that you painstakingly renovated – seems to be sporting a new puddle!
Becoming frustrated is natural, but it’s how you channel this frustration that decides whether you’re a great dog owner or a meh dog owner.
Shouting at your puppy, or even worse – giving him a swift tap on the butt – is not the way to train. So, next time, before you let that frustration get the better of you. Take a nice long deep breath, clean up the mess; and be better at letting your pup out on time!
3. LEAVE HIM WITH RUN OF THE HOUSE
Puppies naturally do their business away from where they sleep and eat. By giving him run of the house or too large a crate – you’re leaving a world of possibilities open to him.
Instead, you should leave him in just large enough of an area. With space to sleep, and eat – and one area for him to choose when potty time comes around!
4. EXPECT HIM TO HOLD IT
Had to run some errands on the way home? When you walk through the door, don’t be surprised if you find an accident waiting for you.
Your dog will hold it for as long as he can, but his bladder is only so big. If you’re the one that messed up the routine, own it, and be better at sticking to it next time.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
We’re all human, and we all get emotional at times. A great dog owner isn’t one that manages to maintain emotional detachment, but one that always does her best to become a better dog owner.
I’d be lying if I said I’d never become annoyed at a dog for peeing on a new rug, but it’s how you deal with these challenges in the future that determines your long-term relationship with your four-legged-friends.
What I’m trying to say is, don’t sweat the small stuff, we all make mistakes, and that doesn’t make you a bad dog owner. A great dog owner never stops learning!
Love, The PetsWell Team